All Commentary
Thursday, December 1, 1960

The United Nations: Peace or Peril

Mr. Johnson is a teacher at Hialeah Senior High School in Florida.


The factor of communism in the United Nations is of major im­portance and cannot be ignored. Time magazine referred to Leo Pasvolsky, a Czarist Russian, as the “architect of the UN Char­ter.”’ Alger Hiss, top Communist in the State Department, was the first Secretary General of the UN and Director of the office which initiated American policy on UN questions and serviced the Ameri­can delegation to the UN.2 Trygve Lie, in his book, In the Cause of Peace, describes the deal made by Hiss and Molotov whereby the Chairman of the UN Security Council (the oft-called “military head” of the UN) will always be a Communist.

Dr. Anthony Bouscaren, as chairman of the Department of Political Science, Marquette Uni­versity, pointed out that during the Korean War, “more UN mem­bers helped the communist enemy than helped the Republic of Korea.”³

The United Nations Security Council resolution of July 7, 1950, (United Nations Document S/ 1588) requested the United States to provide the Security Council with reports on the course of ac­tion taken under the unified com­mand, a request with which the United States complied.

No wonder General Stratemeyer could say, “We were required to lose the Korean War.”4

No wonder Professor Salvador de Madariaga could state that “the UN Organization bore upon its brow from the very beginning the mark of Moscow.”5

The last part of an editorial in the Los Angeles Evening Herald Express of January 9, 1954, sums it up nicely: “Stalin first ap­pointed Arkady Sobolev [to UN Security Council] who demanded the firing of MacArthur. He was succeeded by Konstantin Zinchenko, who chose a notorious Red espion­age agent for his first assistant. Last July [1953] the post was given to Ilya Chernyshev, another Red. MacArthur and Van Fleet had to confide their plans to these Reds. That’s why we lost the Korean War. That’s why our cas­ualties were the highest per month of any war in American history.”

But while the Korean War was a great tragedy, both in American and UN history, communism in the UN is not a necessary factor in condemnation of the UN ap­proach to peace. The UN would be just as bad if the charter had been written by George Washing­ton, although it would have been impossible for Washington to have written anything differing so violently with the United States Constitution, both as to letter and as to spirit.6

Any student of the history of liberty and the rule of law will not need detailed discussion to con­vince him that the UN way is the wrong way —he will feel it in his bones.

Scholarly Views


Detailed discussion is provided, however, in two new books: The Humane Economy by Professor Wilhelm Roepke, published with the assistance of the Institute for Philosophical and Historical Stud­ies,7 and The Constitution of Lib­erty by Dr. Friedrich A. Hayek of the University of Chicago.8 Neither of these books is directly concerned with the United Na­tions, but rather with problems of freedom and government in general. As such, however, certain passages are indeed pertinent, and indicate that the UN was much in mind when they were written.

The Case for Decentralization


Roepke sees today’s key ideo­logical struggle as one between “centrism and decentrism,” and contrasts those who are attracted toward collectivity (centrists) with those who are attracted to the members which compose it (decentrists). “The former,” says Roepke, “look at the structure of society from the top downwards, the latter from the bottom up­wards. The first seek security, happiness, and fulfillment in the subordination of the individual and the small group to a deliber­ately and strictly organized com­munity, which, from this point of view, is all the more attractive the larger it is; the others seek these benefits in the independence and autonomy of the individual and the small group.” Roepke de­velops and defends the decentrist approach. He spends considerable time showing the necessary paral­lel between all “centralized” ap­proaches to peace and socialism; and, in a specific reference to the direction the UN is taking, states that “the shining peak in the dis­tance is the international welfare state…”

It is unusual to find someone advocating DEcentralization as asolution to many of the world’s problems, yet this is the only solu­tion consistent with a regard for individual differences and with the fact of America‘s unique suc­cess in this area.

Hayek, who develops his points beautifully, classifies the “inabil­ity to conceive of an effective co­ordination of human activities without deliberate organization by a commanding intelligence” as part of the “opposition to a sys­tem of freedom under general laws….” Yet how frequently we find people who cannot visualize any way toward peaceful organ­ization except the UN way! Hayek makes his point clear in the second chapter: “To turn the whole of society into a single organization built and directed according to a single plan would be to extinguish the very forces that shaped the individual human minds that planned it…. We are not far from the point where the deliber­ately organized forces of society may destroy those spontaneous forces which have made advance possible.”

The Rule of Law


Nowhere has the principle of the rule of law been so highly de­veloped as in the United States under the Constitution. To pre­serve that principle here in the United States is a tough job, but the attempt to establish it in the UN is sheer folly. The Charter, following the Russian pattern, con­cerns itself with many liberties. Yet, as Hayek points out, freedom is indivisible, and “liberties” ap­pear only when “liberty” is lack­ing. “Constitutionalism,” he says, “means that all power rests on the understanding that it will be exer­cised according to commonly ac­cepted principles. The rule of law is therefore not a rule of the law, but a rule concerning what the law ought to be, a meta-legal doc­trine or a political ideal…. the ideal of the rule of law presup­poses a very definite conception of what is meant by law.”

Is there anything more incon­gruous than communist and so­cialist nations which, as Hayek documents, have always denied the rule of law, sitting down with the United States and other Western powers to form the rule of law? As the sharpest of contrasts to the Constitutional concept where­by everything is permitted which is not specifically prohibited Hayek poses the Russian concept which “represents an attempt to found the state on principles which are the very opposite of those of the rule of law,” and where “everything is prohibited which is not specially permitted.” The United States can ill afford to compromise with any other nation its principles concerning the rule of law.

The entire “from the top down” approach to law is wrong. In a note to chapter ten Hayek quotes from an American Bar Associa­tion Report of 1890: “Law is not a body of commands imposed upon society from without, either by an individual sovereign or supe­rior, or by a sovereign body con­stituted by representatives of so­ciety itself. It exists at all times as one of the elements of society springing directly from habit and custom. It is therefore the uncon­scious creation of society, or in other words, a growth.” “It is,” as Hayek says, “the acceptance of common principles that makes a collection of people a commun­ity…. If people were not at most times led by some system of com­mon ideas, neither a coherent pol­icy nor even real discussion about particular issues would be pos­sible.”

Nothing in Common


What “coherent policy” may be ascribed to the UN? How much “real discussion” goes on? Is it not obvious that there must be unity of basic ideals before physi­cal “togetherness” in the UN can be anything but hypocrisy? (A delegate from an African “nation,” who may barely understand the word government, has an equal voice with the U.S. delegate. And, as the General Assembly is pres­ently constituted, delegates repre­senting 5 per cent of the earth’s population can carry the day against the other 95 per cent.) Is it not obvious that the United States and the free world gain nothing by their verbal victories over the communist bloc in the UN dream world when, in the meantime, the Communists are permitted to se­cure victories of a more concrete nature in the world of reality?`’

It may be that the UN focuses the “burning fire of world opin­ion” on wrong doers, but what good did this “burning fire” do for the people of Czechoslovakia, Rumania, Bulgaria, Hungary, or Tibet?

Exchange of technological in­formation, emergency relief for starving children, and the like, have all been provided long before the UN came into existence; and private aid continues to this day. The UN and “government to gov­ernment” approaches merely tend to subsidize socialism, as they pro­mote, not internationalism, but inter governmentalism. But the main point is that aid of this as standing up to them in debate do not understand the problem of stand­ing up to the Russians.”kind is a problem in the exercise of responsibility, about which Hayek states, “Freedom demands that the responsibility of the indi­vidual extend only to what he can be presumed to judge…. Respon­sibility, to be effective, must be in­dividual responsibility. In a free society there cannot be any collec­tive responsibility…. As every­body’s property in effect is no­body’s property, so everybody’s responsibility is nobody’s responsi­bility… we cannot expect the sense of responsibility for the known and familiar to be replaced by a similar feeling about the re­mote and the theoretically known.”

Perhaps now we can understand former UN Assembly president Madame Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit’s remarks concerning the UN Char­ter: “We don’t cry at the Charter any more —we laugh at it. It has been interpreted, misinterpreted, and explained. It is the one thing all of us can hide behind when we do not want to fulfill our obliga­tions, and that is not the way to peace.”¹º Thus the debilitating philosophy of “Let George do it” has given way on an international scale to “Let the UN do it.”

“Distributive Justice”


The United Nations’ concern  with “distributive justice” and “underprivileged nations” is in­teresting. “Distributive justice,” says Hayek, “requires an alloca­tion of all resources by a central authority; it requires that people be told what to do and what ends to serve.” And Roepke reminds us that “what is given to the one must be taken from the others, and whenever we say that the state is to help us, we are laying a claim to somebody else’s money, his earnings or his savings.”

If a nation wishes to acquire the capital necessary for raising its standard of living, it may either tighten its own belt or adopt antisocialist governmental policies which will attract foreign capital. Unfortunately, as Roepke states, most nations are unwilling to do either one. They have in mind “not the legitimate but the unlawful and revolutionary as­pects” of equalization. “The idea,” says Roepke, “is tempting and as such is by no means new. We met it twenty or thirty years ago in the Fascist and Nazi catchwords of the haves and the have-nots. We remember the violence with which Mussolini launched what he called the class struggle of the proletarian peoples against the satisfied and possessing peoples, and the Nazis demanded living space for themselves.”

Furthermore, inequality itself plays an important part in the ad­vance of civilization. Hayek states, “There can be little doubt that the prospect of the poorer, ‘undevel­oped’ countries reaching the pres­ent level of the West is very much better than it would have been, had the West not pulled so far ahead. Furthermore, it is better than it would have been, had some world authority, in the course of the rise of modern civilization, seen to it that no part pulled too far ahead of the rest and made sure at each step that the material benefits were distributed evenly throughout the world.” Surely this is telling commentary on many of the UN objectives.

A Lack of Purpose


The fine books herein quoted are but two of a vast number available which paint a picture of peace and progress through vol­untarism, not compulsion; through Decentralization, not centraliza­tion —and they show that, in fact, peace cannot be achieved any other way. Peace and progress are built from the bottom up —not from the top down. Yet the scope of ac­tivity under the present UN Charter is monolithic and practi­cally infinite. It is not power, but purpose which the UN lacks.

How the UN can grow in power while its charter remains the same is a long subject for another time, but it is significant that Russia has voted for the new powers given to Mr. Hammarsk­jold. With the large number of new nations admitted and sched­uled for admission to the UN, Russia‘s power will grow. Need­less to say, no communist nation has ever accepted the compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court, either with or without reservation, although it is con­ceivable that the number of com­munist judges will increase suf­ficiently, in time, to make this pos­sible.

Politics and peace just don’t mix, and the UN is the most polit­ical of all possible organizations. The political character of the UN is something of which Mr. Ham­marskjold is well aware.”

We Are at War


One possible way to peace might be to win the war. This indeed in­volves acceptance of the fact that we are in a war, but it would be hard to find more evidence of this fact than that already available. Just browse through some old, or recent, copies of Life, Time, News­week, or U. S. News & World Re­port, noting merely headlines and subheadlines. For instance, from U. S. News and World Report, we have the following: December 21, 1955—”1947 to 1955—World War III, Russian Style. Who is win­ning? Russians have been waging war against the West for nearly ten years. They were winning four years ago, are doing even better now. Immense areas of the world have fallen under Soviet control. Other areas, vital to noncommu­nist world, are tottering. All of this has been accomplished with­out the Soviet Army’s firing a shot. Yet it is a real war. It is World War III, Russian style.” June 15, 1956 —”Here Is What Reds Have Done To Violate Armis­tice In Korea.” October 3, 1958 —”Today’s War —How The Reds Are Operating In 72 Countries.”

To emphasize the hypocrisy of the UN, remember that the Charter solemnly states: “All members shall refrain in their in­ternational relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any member state, or in any other manner in­consistent with the purposes of the United Nations.” When will people stop evaluating the UN on the basis of its principles and start evaluating it on the basis of how well it is suited to realize those principles?

How can anyone say the UN is the way to peace? Since the UN was founded the Communists have made satellites of Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Rumania, and Bulgaria, and have precipitated the follow­ing major wars, which they either won and established control, or utilized to secure important foot­holds: Indonesian War, Chinese Civil War, Malayan War, Philip­pine Civil War, Indochina War, Greek Guerilla War, Korean War, Guatemalan Revolt, Algerian War, Hungarian Suppression, Formosa Straight Conflict, Indonesian Civ­il War, Cuban Civil War, and Tibetan Revolt.¹²

The list of minor conflicts is too lengthy to present, and it grows every day. To date, Russia has shot down twelve American planes, practically all over international waters, with a loss of 67 American lives.¹³ One wonders how bad things can get before we face the facts and stop hamstringing our­selves in UN debate. How can the world follow God and act toward peace when such action is subject to veto by an atheist power bent upon world domination? The ob­jective of checking the communist advance can never be, and has not been, carried out under the United Nations.

Winning a war, however, is no guarantee that peace will be pre­served, or even that peace will be an objective. This is not to rec­ommend unilateral disarmament (or atomic test bans), which is suicidal, but rather to state the obvious fact that a nation must know what it is for as well as what it is against.

When the Kaiser waged war, we whipped him. But it did not bring peace. When Hitler waged war, we whipped him. But it did not bring peace. Now Khrushchev is waging war, and we sit down with him at the conference table and give him nine votes to our one.¹4 This, of course, is not bring­ing peace either.

Peace Begins at Home


Is it not possible that the UN’s lack of purpose is but a reflection of the lack of purpose of the na­tions which comprise it? It is in­deed true that we may be unable to purge the world of communism until we purge ourselves of com­munism and Communists here in the United States. But it is equally important and far more basic to purge ourselves as individuals of collectivist tendencies generally.

International disorganization is but an outgrowth of personal dis­organization. Peace is not built from the top down but from the bottom up. The beauty of decen­tralized government, as an ap­proach to peace and harmony gen­erally, lies in its emphasis upon the inescapable fact that “society” never improves along any lines except as individuals improve. We have all heard that “charity begins at home,” and this is equally true of peace.

Through this approach a man tends not to the affairs of distant millions, which are beyond him, but to his own affairs, which are within his powers; he aids not the unknown masses, but his neighbor in need next door; he attempts not to govern the world, but to gov­ern himself and his local com­munity —for the man who can govern the world does not exist.

This approach conflicts with much that is said today about the necessity of assuming our “world­wide” responsibilities. The answer is that the only way for the “world” to assume “its” respon­sibilities is for each individual to assume his responsibilities. There is no other way.¹5

To this end we must learn to avoid the inherent immorality and antagonism of socialism and col­lectivism generally. Collectivism cannot be checked abroad while it is embraced at home. We must learn more of the inherent morality and harmony of the free market. We must learn more of the spiri­tual bases of liberty and their ex­pression in the United States Con­stitution.

There are two quotations perti­nent to this end, the first by G. K. Chesterton and the second by Emerson:

“Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.”

“Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring peace but the triumph of prin­ciples.”

We, as a country, must learn what we are for. And when I say “as a country,” I include you, and me.



1 Time, May 18, 1953.

2 Report: “Interlocking Subversion in Government Departments” (Internal Se­curity Subcommittee, 1953) p. 9. This re­port also lists other top Communists in the UN and in the U.S. State Department and shows the remarkable extent of their influence.

3 “Speeches, Findings and Resolutions: Congress of Freedom, Inc.” 1955, p. 99.

4 Hearings, “Interlocking Subversion in Government Departments” (Internal Security Subcommittee, 1954) Parts 21­27, which include testimony of Strate­meyer, Van Fleet, Clark, Almond, and Joy.

5 Victors Beware, London, 1946. p. 270.

6 For an exposition of these differences, consult The United Nations by Dr. Orval Watts. New York: Devin-Adair Co., 1955.

7 Chicago: Henry Regnery Company, 1960.

8 University of Chicago Press, 1960.

9 Walter Lippman recognized this in the Miami Herald, August 28, 1960, when his editorial stated: “Those who regard the problem of standing up to the Rus sians

10 Bromfield, Louis. A New Pattern for a Tired World. New York: Harper • Bros.. 1954. p. 247.

11 “Hammarskjold: Have Troops, Will Travel.” National Review, Aug. 27, 1960. p. 109.

12 Consult Protracted Conflict. New York: Harper & Bros., 1959. Released by the Foreign Policy Research Institute of the University of Pennsylvania.

13 U.S. News & World Report, July 25, 1960.

¹º4 Including six satellites.

15 This whole topic is beautifully developed by Mr. Lipscomb in an article entitled “How to Win a War” in THE FREEMAN,


August, 1960.




Ideas on Liberty


The Personal Practice of Freedom


Freedom rests, and always will, on individual responsibility, indi­vidual integrity, individual effort, individual courage, and indi­vidual religious faith. It does not rest in Washington. It rests with you and me.